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Health care for all? Fauntleroy gathering airs, shares concerns

May 28, 2009 10:54 pm
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 |   Fauntleroy | Health | West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

By Jonathan Stumpf
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

In advance of this Saturday’s Seattle march and rally for health-care reform, members of the Health Care for All – Washington (HCFA-WA) organization presented a community screening of the PBS documentary Sick Around the World Wednesday night at Fauntleroy Church (WSB sponsor).

The hour-long Frontline documentary, hosted by former Washington Post and NPR correspondent T.R. Reid, examines the successes and problems of health care systems in five countries, looking for alternatives to what many see as a failing health-care system in America.

Twenty West Seattle residents attended the event. The discussion afterward hosted by HCFA-WA board member Chuck Rogers and committee chairs Paul and Mary Margaret Pruitt (photo above) stirred up myriad issues and concerns among attendees, ranging from emergency rooms serving as clinics for the uninsured to some residents being disgusted with insurance company’s control over America’s health-care system.

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Safe Routes to School Month winds up with Sanislo kids’ cleanup

Thanks to Feet First for sharing photos from this morning’s trash pickup involving Sanislo Elementary School students who gathered at the Southwest Precinct for a special-mission walk to school – part of the Go! Project, a Safe Routes to School Program funded by the state Department of Transportation and facilitated by Feet First. We took you along earlier this month during another special Safe Routes to School event with Sanislo families (here’s our coverage) and they’ve been doing something special every week all month long.

Lisa Quinn from Feet First tells WSB they picked up 20 pounds of trash this morning!

Today/tonight: Conservation, libraries, green jobs, health …

May 27, 2009 6:03 am
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 |   Environment | Health | High Point | West Seattle news

Hot topics all over West Seattle (and beyond) today/tonight. First, three events in High Point: 7:30 am, hard-hat/sturdy-shoe construction-site tour of the LEED-Gold-to-be Neighborhood Center (more here); 4 pm, you can tour High Point neighborhoods with a focus on “how green energy initiatives create jobs, better communities, and a safer world.” More here. 6 pm at High Point Library, the King Conservation District wants to hear from you; here’s why. Speaking of libraries, at the big one downtown, the Seattle Library Board considers those behavior-policy changes, 4:30 pm (details here). And at 7 pm, be at Fauntleroy Church (WSB sponsor) to talk about universal health care after watching the documentary “Sick Around the World.” More events for today/tonight/beyond here.

Seattle EPA hearing on climate change: Rally photos

WSB photojournalist Christopher Boffoli is back from covering this afternoon’s rally at Pier 66, outside the EPA’s public hearing on whether to designate climate change as a threat to human health. His first photo shows some of the youngest delegates from West Seattle’s CoolMom chapter to attend; the CoolMom kids spent some time up on stage, and other West Seattleites were there, including a delegation from Sustainable West Seattle. Here’s an overview of the rally:

Among the speakers, Mayor Nickels:

The hearing is scheduled to continue until at least 8 pm; here’s how to listen to live audio. ADDED 5:08 PM: From the mayor’s office, his “written testimony” submitted during the hearing:Read More

Update: Walk with Us to Cure Lupus 5K raises $40K on Alki

May 17, 2009 1:58 pm
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 |   Health | West Seattle news | West Seattle video

That video shows the start of this morning’s Walk with Us to Cure Lupus 5K fundraising walk at Alki – third year for this event, and organizer Laurie Gray told us the hundreds of walkers raised about $40,000. Before the walk began, participants were told that researchers are making progress in the fight against lupus, an auto-immune disorder (explained here), by identifying specific genes linked to it. (Lupus is gender-linked, as well; 90 percent of patients are female.) This is one of more than a dozen Walk with Us to Cure Lupus events around the country (others are listed here); local businesses supported the event too, including WSB sponsor M3 Bodyworks, which had massage stations set up inside Alki Bathhouse:

From left, that’s Jen Barth, Michael Mandell and Liam Buell (he’s one of M3’s newest therapists, who are the inspiration for the “New Therapists Special” currently being promoted in M3’s WSB ad). Seattle Lutheran High School band members were on hand to help pump up the walkers, and Pioneer Coffee provided their signature beverage. Next 5K event on Alki: The first-ever West Seattle 5K to raise money for local schools; organizers are advertising on WSB for the rest of the month to help get the word out — it’s the kickoff event to the May 31 “Celebrate Seattle Summer Streets” event (sequel to last September’s Car-Free Day, though the name has changed this year); you can register for the West Seattle 5K here.

Bike To Work Day: “Commute station” under The Bridge

Aaron’s Bicycle Repair (in Morgan Junction) and BECU (all over) sponsored the West Seattle “commuter station” this morning as part of Bike To Work Day today – thanks to a different Aaron for sharing his photo. West Seattle bicycle commuters tell us a steady stream of riders went by as part of today’s event; stations like this were set up all over the city during the morning commute. Any other West Seattle bicycle commuters with BTW Day photos to share, — we’ll add ’em! Thanks, and we wish you a safe ride home. ADDED 5:32 PM: Via Twitter, @greggscycles noted sightings of 150 bicycles while riding from West Seattle to Green Lake. 11:03 PM: Also from Twitter, King County Council Chair Dow Constantine (of WS) reported addressing a BTW crowd downtown. And West Seattle’s @bikehugger DL Byron has posted some of his BTW Day scenes. Final note: Bicyclist Kerry says that upon arrival at the WS commute station – the counter clicked to 599 – and #600 arrived shortly afterward!

Hike tomorrow, lupus 5K Sunday – and the weather’s improving!

It just might get into the 70s by tomorrow. So if you’re free in the afternoon, join the Nature Consortium‘s free monthly hike in the West Duwamish Greenbelt, 1 pm tomorrow (14th/Holly; map), RSVP to Lisa Corbin (, who tells WSB, “There has been a lot of work done recently with the trails and an entire hillside has been cleared of blackberry and planted with natives, not to mention the spring growth of skunk cabbage, trillium, etc. A great time to see the greenbelt.” Then on Sunday at Alki, you can join the 5K to help fight lupus, a chronic auto-immune disease:

To be specific, Sunday’s event is the Seattle/Puget Sound Walk with Us to Cure Lupus Walk-a-thon (photo above is from last year’s event). The ALR Walk with Us to Cure Lupus event will be a 3 mile (5K) walk, starting at Alki Bathhouse at 9 am To be part of it, call Laurie Gray at 206.919.6270 or visit (where you can also pledge to support walkers, if you can’t be there in person).

Got flu questions? County beefs up the hotline

A note from King County Public Health:

Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, Public Health’s Flu Hotline at 877-903-5464 will provide expanded service by offering callers an opportunity to speak with registered nurses. Hotline nurses will tell callers how to manage their symptoms at home, tell them if they need to see a doctor or health care provider and answer other medical questions about H1N1 flu. The Flu Hotline number is 1-877-903 KING (5464).

Also tomorrow, perhaps coincidentally, county political leaders plan a media briefing to “call for state legislators to provide dedicated public health funding to help counties statewide.”

“Micro-farmers’ market” set for Delridge Day celebration

May 4, 2009 3:13 pm
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 |   Delridge | Health | West Seattle news

West Seattle festival season is about to kick into high gear, and one of the upcoming events has just gone public with more details of what you can expect: Delridge Day — May 30th at Youngstown Arts Center — will be themed “FRESH,” focusing on everything from fresh food to fresh arts creations and fresh community involvement. One highlight: A “micro-farmers’ market” with organic produce. Read on for more details of what’s just been announced:Read More

Flu update: Another 6 suspected cases announced today

In what’s becoming a daily update from Seattle-King County Public Health, the latest announcement says 6 more probable cases of swine flu have been reported, bringing the total number of likely cases in the county to 22. Health authorities also have changed their recommendations for how schools should handle news of a case of this flu – read on for the latest details:Read More

Flu update: 6 more potential cases in King County

May 2, 2009 8:17 pm
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 |   Health | Swine flu

The daily update from King County Public Health came in a little while ago, so for everyone following the saga, the latest is: Six more potential cases, one of which was already suspected – three from Seattle: a 12-year-old and 14-year-old who haven’t been hospitalized, and an 80-year-old who has been, but is now out of the hospital. Read on for more details in the official news release:Read More

Flu update: 5 King Co. schools now closed (none in West Seattle)

King County health authorities just finished a short briefing on the flu situation. One more case of suspected swine flu is now reported, a 9-year-old patient, and because of that, an additional school has closed in King County, Midway Elementary in Des Moines, but no more Seattle Public Schools closures were announced, beyond the current three (Madrona, Stevens, Aki Kurose), none of which is in or near West Seattle. Perhaps the most important thing Dr. David Fleming said: Right now this flu seems to be behaving like “regular” flu – different levels of severity, but no worse than the seasonal outbreaks. Also participating in the news conference was Mayor Nickels, who noted that the city’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated to help track the flu outbreak. And authorities again stressed, the most important thing you can do is to stay home if you feel sick. We’ll add more info here when the official roundup from today’s briefing is available.

ADDED 4:53 PM: As promised, we’re adding the official roundup. It also includes word of a new flu hotline – 877-903-KING – and the total number of schools in King County closed because of the flu situation is now five (so we have changed our headline):Read More

Also about to open in Morgan Junction: Pilates Westside

You’ve heard all about Feedback Lounge (which opened last Saturday) and Zeeks Pizza (which opens at 4 pm today). But the Morgan Junction business boom isn’t just about eating and drinking. A new fitness business is on the way too, in the 6521 California SW (map) space occupied by Aaron’s Bicycle Repair before it moved a few doors south. We first told you, briefly, about Pilates Westside 4 weeks ago; since then, we’ve had a chance to chat with proprietors Jodie Stolz and Jack Lanham, scheduled to move into their new space starting today, and officially opening Monday:Read More

Flu update: 3 schools closed (none in West Seattle)

Couple of updates since the last addition to our ongoing flu story (we will launch a new one tomorrow for any updates during the day): The city of Seattle has added extra resources to its home page, including a special section about the flu; see it here. The city also has joined with Seattle Public Schools in the announcement of three schools (NOT in West Seattle) now closing for at least a week because of flu concerns, and asking that students from those schools be kept at home. Here are the latest announcements (and a map of those three schools’ locations):Read More

Thursday swine-flu updates: Latest in Seattle/King County

Last night, we covered the developing story of three “probable” Seattle swine-flu cases. While there is no specific “West Seattle angle” at this point, we plan to include major area developments here at WSB, knowing this is one of the places you come for news. Right now, our plan is to start with one story – today, this one – that will be updated throughout the day with what’s new, whenever there’s something more major to add. We start with:

THURSDAY MORNING: Seattle Public Schools has announced Madrona K-8, attended by one of the patients with a “probable” case, will close until next Thursday to be on the safe side. Here is the SPS announcement, including a message to all district families.

ALSO THURSDAY MORNING: The Everett Clinic is talking with reporters right now about the pediatrician who lives in Seattle and works at their Mill Creek clinic and was identified last night as one of the “probable” cases. They say she saw 22 patients on Monday and they are notifying them all. The doctor and her family, who also showed some flu symptoms, are all said to be “doing well.” Here is the clinic’s news release.

THURSDAY, 11:21 AM: Pathfinder K-8 has postponed tonight’s Multi-Cultural Night until May 21 as a school-initiated decision to be “proactive.” Separate story here.

THURSDAY, 4:47 PM: More new probable cases announced in King County – here’s a Seattle Times roundup.

Information resources (we’ll add more, and let us know if you have something to recommend):
Seattle/King County Public Health swine-flu page
CDC (federal) swine-flu page
Fast-breaking CDC updates via Twitter
State Department of Health swine-flu page

Any other Seattle/King County swine-flu news announced today will be added here, unless there’s something WS-specific, in which case we’ll publish a new, separate story.

7:02 PM THURSDAY: Here’s the news release about the additional probable cases announced today, and additional school closures (NOT in West Seattle):Read More

Update: King County announces three “probable” swine-flu cases

ORIGINAL 8:52 PM REPORT: Hours after county health experts briefed the Seattle City Council, saying there were no known swine-flu cases here, they have announced three “probable” cases – here’s a news release we just received:

Today, three probable cases of swine influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, have been identified in King County. The laboratory samples have been sent to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Public Health – Seattle & King County is awaiting final confirmation.

The CDC has determined that the swine flu virus H1N1 is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Symptoms of swine flu include a fever of more than 100°F, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

“Now that swine flu is likely in King County, we expect to see more infections, but it’s too early to say how severe the illnesses will be. We are working to provide needed information and assistance to these people and their families. We are also working with health care providers and community partners to prepare in the event that the situation becomes more serious,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

“We’ve prepared for this day for the past four years, and now we must all do our part to reduce its spread,” said Ron Sims, King County Executive. “We encourage everyone to get prepared at home, find out about plans at your job, and take steps to protect yourself, your family and the community by staying home when you are sick, washing your hands often and covering your coughs and sneezes.”

“In the last few years, Seattle has prepared for pandemic flu. We will activate our Emergency Operations Center at the first level so our emergency operations personnel can coordinate procedures and communications,” said Greg Nickels, Seattle Mayor.

As of today, April 29, there are three probable cases of swine flu in King County, in addition to two cases in Snohomish County and one case in Spokane County.

The three King County residents with probable swine flu include:

o a male child of Seattle who was hospitalized and is improving
o a male in his 20s from Seattle, not hospitalized and improving
o a woman in her 30s from Seattle, not hospitalized and improving

Human cases of swine influenza virus infection also have been identified nationally and internationally.
When should you seek medical care?
Use the same judgment you would use during a typical flu season. Do not seek medical care if you are not ill or have mild symptoms for which you would not ordinarily seek medical care. If you have more severe symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches or are feeling more seriously ill, call your health care provider to discuss your symptoms and if you need to be evaluated.

Public Health will continue to work with health care providers to test flu patients who develop severe illness or are associated with clusters, but does not currently recommend testing for all flu patients.

If the following flu-like symptoms are mild, medical attention is not typically required: runny nose or nasal stuffiness; low-grade fever for less than 3 days; mild headache; body aches and mild stomach upset.

What can I do now to get prepared?

This is an excellent time to get prepared at home and work for a possible influenza pandemic. See

Everyday behaviors to stay healthy

o If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
o Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
o Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
o To further prevent the spread of germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
o Avoid close contact with sick people

What is swine flu?

“Swine flu” is an influenza A (H1N1) virus normally found in pigs. There are many such viruses and they rarely infect humans. The virus currently causing human illness is a new type of swine flu that has developed the ability to infect people and be transmitted from person to person.

Although this new virus is called “swine flu,” it is not transmitted from pigs to humans, or from eating pork products. Like other respiratory diseases, it is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch.

For more information and frequent updates:
Public Health Hotline: 206-296-4949

We have a message out to the Health Department to ask if they can or will be any more specific about what part of the city the Seattle patients are from. (9:18 pm addition: KING5 says one case is an 11-year-old Madrona Elementary student.) But we do want to reiterate one thing that we heard in the briefing on which we reported earlier today: Most of the U.S. cases so far have been fairly mild. This is NOT necessarily an automatically deadly/severe illness. Take the steps that authorities are counseling – but don’t panic. The county’s official swine-flu information page is here.

9:47 PM UPDATE: Also wrote this in comments – Just talked to James Apa with King County Public Health. Beyond the information about the child, which they provided because of the school aspect of the story, he says they are not going “lower than city level” in terms of descriptive information about the two patients – trying to balance privacy with public information. So for now, unless the two patients or someone close to them decides to independently inform a media outlet, there is NO info publicly available on where they are from. Also note, Seattle Public Schools is making recorded phone calls to ALL district families to let them know about the Madrona case and to reiterate that schools are open, no changes at this point – several people in comments, and on Twitter (@westseattleblog) and Facebook (WS Blog), have already reported getting those calls.

9:58 PM UPDATE: County Councilmember Julia Patterson, who chairs the county Board of Health, just sent this statement:

“Now is not the time to panic, but to use every day common sense precautions, like washing your hands regularly, covering your cough, and staying home from school or work when you are sick.

“Our public health department is one of the most prepared in the nation. They have prepared for the most severe form of this influenza, even though the cases thus far are more mild.

“I am confident that they are making every effort to reduce the spread, by educating those infected or at risk, and by keeping residents informed and protected.”

And minutes after that, a news release with a statement from West Seattle-residing County Council Chair Dow Constantine:

Metropolitan King County Council Chair Dow Constantine was present at tonight’s briefing on the suspected local swine flu cases, and has this statement:

“I’ve been briefed tonight by Public Health and I am impressed with their swift action to identify and report these suspected local cases of swine flu to the CDC for confirmation. We were briefed Monday on their plans for heightened monitoring and we are now seeing the results of that work.

“We have one of the finest public health agencies in the nation, with whom we have been making plans for an event such as this since 2006. The plans are good and I’m confident they will be well-executed.

“The best way we can all minimize the spread of infection now is by ensuring we have an educated and prepared public.”

11:14 PM UPDATE: One comment asks about how these people might have gotten the virus, if indeed they have it. That information has not been released. One is a doctor, said to have possibly seen patients on one day while she might have been contagious, and they will be notified.

8:20 AM THURSDAY: Seattle Public Schools announced this morning that Madrona (which is actually a K-8; here’s where it’s located) is closing as a precaution, till next Thursday.

Update: Toplines from Seattle City Council swine-flu briefing

You can watch live on channel 21 or online at We’ll summarize afterward but will also add any major toplines here as it happens. City Council President Richard Conlin opened by noting that the World Health Organization has just raised the pandemic-preparedness alert level to 5 on a scale of 6, so the briefing is “timely.” County public-health managers are leading the briefing, same ones who briefed the County Council earlier this week (WSB coverage here).

2:56 PM UPDATE: Briefing’s over. Here are the toplines:

-No local cases, not even any reports of increased absenteeism or severe illness of any kind that might point to something suspicious

-U.S. cases have acted more like typical flu, “on the mild side” (aside from one toddler death reported today)

-Northern Hemisphere less at risk right now than Southern Hemisphere since prime flu-spreading weather is ending here

-King County’s been prepping for a pandemic since 2004; its stockpile of antivirals – with more on the way – eventually will be enough to treat 25% of the county’s population if that many people got sick; would be distributed through pharmacies, clinics, doctors; what’s on hand now should retain its potency through 2013

-If you feel sick, STAY HOME – don’t expose others; face masks, by the way, are mostly good for sick people who can’t stay home trying to minimize spreading their illness to others – might have some protection use – two most important things you can do to keep anything from spreading: Wash your hands, cover your cough

-Symptoms would be sudden onset, high fever, achy joints and muscles, cough

-If you were immunized against swine flu in the ’70s, doesn’t help, this is a different virus

Here’s the county’s info page on the swine-flu situation.